What Is Lay Betting? Lay Betting Explained

Lay betting is a betting method used by savvy sports bettors who play the role of the bookmaker to ‘sell’ bets. It’s a method that’s increased in popularity in recent years thanks to the emergence of betting exchanges like Betfair. 

In this article, we’ll be taking a complete look at the concept of lay betting. We’ll also be looking at strategies and whether or not this is the right bet type for you. 

Lay Betting Explained 

To many recreational bettors, the idea of placing a lay bet remains an unusual concept. This is because contrary to most other types of betting, you don’t back something to happen. Instead, you back it not to happen.

In other words, you lay a bet.

Let’s use a futures bet as an example. Let’s say the new NBA season is about to start. Instead of backing a team to win the Championship, you pick a team (the Bucks) not to win it. You want to lay them.

Let’s take a look at a soccer example. Imagine two teams are playing – Manchester United vs. Liverpool. You decide to lay the first goalscorer bet. Maybe you pick Antony Martial not to score first. You can also lay a horse, too. For instance, maybe you want to lay the favorite if you’ve checked the form and think the prices are inaccurate.

What’s happening here? 

Basically, by laying a bet, you’re selling it to another sports bettor. You’re playing the role of the bookie. By betting on something not to happen, you’re competing with someone else who’s betting on that same thing to happen. So while you’re saying the Bucks won’t win the Championship, someone else is saying they will. If they take you up on your lay bet, it’s you versus them. Whoever wins gets the profit. 

What Are The Benefits of Lay Betting? 

Lay betting changed the sports betting game a few years ago when betting exchanges were first launched. It has a few benefits that make it really appealing to a certain type of sports bettor.

Firstly, lay betting increases your chances of winning a bet. How? Because it’s easier to say something won’t happen than to say it will.

For example, how many times have you gone with the first goalscorer soccer bet and got it wrong? It’s a very hard bet to get right because there are at least 20 different outfield players who could score first. With the lay bet, you’re hoping that 19 players other than yours score first. This massively increases your chances of winning. 

However, the biggest reason people lay a bet is because it allows them to engage in matched betting. This is when they back on two opposite things to happen – for example, the Lakers to win and lose the same match. 

How does this work? 

Before a game starts, the bettor might lay the Lakers. In other words, they’re saying the Lakers aren’t going to win. If they lay this before the game starts, the odds will be very good. 

As the game goes on, the Lakers may fall 15 points behind going into the second half. If so, the sports bettor will then back them to win at improved odds. This allows them to lock in a profit no matter what happens. 

Using horse racing as an example, you might back a horse two days before the race starts at attractive odds. As the race draws nearer, its odds massively shorten. This is despite the fact that bad weather has changed your confidence in this horse. As such, you lay the horse at odds, which allows you to lock in a profit no matter what happens. 

Lay betting and matched betting are, of course, time-consuming betting strategies that require a lot of mental effort on your part. You need to understand odds, you need to calculate your potential profits, and you need to watch entire games and react as the game goes along. 

What’s a Betting Exchange?

Lay betting is only possible if you sign up to a betting exchange. Here, you will be able to both buy and sell bets. 

A betting exchange such as Betfair is very different from a traditional type of bookmakers because YOU play the role of the bookie. This means that, unlike a traditional bookie, the betting exchange doesn’t care whether you win or lose. If you win, it doesn’t care how much you win. 


Because you’re not competing against the bookmakers – you’re competing against a bettor just like you. When you lay your bet, they buy (back) the bet. It’s you versus someone else, as opposed to you versus the bookie. A betting exchange has evened the playing field for many sports bettors and made betting a fairer experience. 

Wrapping Up 

Lay bets is one of many betting strategies that could change the game for you. It’s not easy to get right, and there is a lot of effort required in order to turn a profit, but it can be very appealing.

If you think this is, along with matched betting, the right strategy for you, the next step is to sign up to a betting exchange. Also, it’s a smart idea to use other tools as well, including odds calculator and other betting tools.

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